Awara

NIGERIA

Tofu and Nigerian spices combine in this bright and flavorful dish

SUBMITTED BY

Laila

When I began my series on “5 Tofu Dishes From 5 Countries,” I was eager to include dishes that featured tofu as the main ingredient, not just as a replacement for some other protein like chicken or fish. This dish features tofu as the star, just as I hoped. Awara is a traditional Nigerian tofu dish brought to us by Laila from northern Nigeria.

Laila says that in northern Nigeria, awara is a staple food eaten by people both at home and from street vendors. Awara is usually made up of pieces of tofu that have been dipped in beaten egg and then fried. Then, the fried tofu is topped with stir-fried vegetables. According to Leila, the most common vegetables served in Awara are cabbage and red onion, but you can cook whatever vegetables you think would go well with this dish.

One common mistake that people make when they cook Awara is adding water to the vegetables and overcooking them. Laila remarks that you do not want any soggy or soft vegetables in this dish. Instead, the veggies should be slightly moist from the oil and water that they released, but they should still have a slight crunch to them. 

This dish reminds Laila of when she would have a later lunch and not be hungry for dinner. So, instead of eating dinner, she would buy awara with her friends. They would all eat awara while watching television and top the dish with some chili flakes for added spice. In Nigeria, tofu is commonly eaten as a main dish, not as a substitute for meat. Laila mentions that she knows that many Americans only eat tofu as a substitute when they want to be vegan or vegetarian, but she actually only knows a few vegans and vegetarians in Nigeria.

This dish is very simple to make with easy-to-find ingredients, but I accidentally fried the tofu partially before dipping it into the egg. So, I rectified my mistake by adding the partially cooked tofu into the egg and re-frying it. I still think the dish turned out great. When making this dish, you might think it lacks seasoning, but the Maggi spice packet I added made it work. I wanted to make this dish with cabbage, but somebody ate the leftover cabbage in my fridge! So, I used peppers and onions instead. I totally agree with Laila that overcooking the veggies is a huge no-no with this dish. What I particularly love about awara is that the dish doesn’t feel like tofu is replacing something like chicken. The tofu and veggies are the stars.

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Ingredients
  

  • 1 block firm tofu drained and cut into slices
  • 2 bell peppers chopped
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 maggi seasoning cube
  • 1 egg
  • oil

Instructions
 

  • Heat a little oil (1-2 Tbsp) in a medium pan.
  • Add onions and peppers, sauté until softened slightly.
  • Crumble in maggi cube, stir and cook to dissolve. Take out vegetables and set aside.
  • Beat egg in a small bowl.
  • Heat a little more oil in the pan to prevent sticking. Dip slices of tofu in egg before laying in pan. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown on each side.
  • Add vegetables back to pan with tofu and stir to combine all the flavors. Serve!
Course: Dinner
Region: Africa
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

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